Whilst listening generally to music there is, every now and then, an album which jumps right out at you for one reason or another. “The Last of England” certainly fits firmly into that category not only because of its lovely melodic charm but it also has a wonderful intense warmth and beauty that totally encaptivates you from the very first bars of the opening track right through to the very last note. As you sink down in your armchair and the music abounds all around you it conjures up visions of peace and tranquility and furthermore a deep feeling of total satisfaction that everything is wonderful with the world. Here we have playing together two master musicians exercising their trade with such extraordinary skill: the incredibly complicated and totally faultless acoustic guitar play of Gordon Giltrap embedded within the framework of Paul Wards beautiful and majestic keyboards providing counter melodies and saturating the whole affair with panache and sophistication. The resultant sound is a real joy to behold and it is not a question of just focusing one’s attention on the intricacies of the splendid acoustic guitar, because, it really is so much more than it is in fact a total collaboration of guitar lead and keyboard intervention whereby the guitar histrionics are broadened out with swathes of interesting musical colour, timely keyboard fills and as such the provision of a solid platform that enables the guitar to be played with total freedom and abundance.
For those of us old enough to remember the UK music scene of the seventies Gordon Giltrap will be a familiar name having recorded several progressive folk rock albums on the collectable “Transatlantic” record label and in particular the now standard track entitled “Hearsong.” Gordon first got to know Paul Ward at a “Boot Fair” in the eighties but it wasn’t until recently that they started to work together the result of which is this album. The track listing is outlined below and the first seven pieces are related and collectively called ‘The Brotherhood Suite’ and inspired by the pre-Raphaelite art Giltrap viewed in – amongst other places – Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.
The remainder of the set includes a mixture of tunes commissioned by or dedicated to friends and family.
Summary: A Resplendent Masterclass of Acoustic Guitar and Keyboards
Artwork: A nicely designed and interesting cover containing information about the album concept and musicians.
Guest Musician: Ric Sanders Violin on “A Promise Fulfilled”
1. The Last Of England
2. All The Days Of May
4. Elegy (Chatterton)
5. April Love
6. The Light Of The World
9. The Anna Fantasia
10. This Father’s Love
11. Sadie In May
12. Ania’s Dream
13. Plas Oriel
14. A Promise Fulfilled